Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker

“You always look so cool. You resemble the advertisement of the man . . . you know, the advertisement of the man.” Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

We all know the art of J.C. Leyendecker. He’s best known as the creator of the Arrow Collar Man in the shirt advertisements as well as the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Leyendecker’s art captured the zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties. However, few of us know the man J.C. Leyendecker and his relationship with the Arrow Collar model Charles Beach. 



Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is a new documentary by Ryan White. According to the official website,

J.C. Leyendecker was one of the most prominent artists of his time, but his story is largely forgotten. Forced to keep his sexuality a secret, his coded imagery spoke directly to the gay community and laid the foundation for LGBTQ representation in advertising today.

Winner of the Best Documentary Short award at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is beautiful, and well-made. It mixes gorgeous animation with photography and rare film with a moving soundtrack and informative narration.    

I highly recommend this documentary. Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker is currently showing on the streaming service Paramount +.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Unpacking Dieselpunk

While Dieselpunk's roots are firmly planted in the Jazz and Swing Eras, the genre is very much a child of the 21st century and the internet. In 2002, Anders Blixt and Lewis Pollak independently coined the term ‘dieselpunk’ for their RPGs. The genre's online presence grew with the forum Dieselpunks, and various blogs, including this one. A major milestone was in 2012 when John Pyka, the Voice of Dieselpunk, launched the Diesel Powered Podcast, later renamed Dieselpunk Podcast, which I was honored to be a co-host.

I’m excited to write about a recent online Dieselpunk program by Tony Snipes, owner of the Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co., called Unpacking Dieselpunk.

Mr. Snipes, an expert in Dieselpunk, covers topics such as defining Dieselpunk for an eight-year-old (just my speed), the best Dieselpunk movies, what to serve at a Dieselpunk party, the role of magic and the occult in Dieselpunk, and much more. 

I never miss an episode of Unpacking Dieselpunk. Neither should you. 

Unpacking Dieselpunk streams on Facebook.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween 2021!

“This is Halloween, this is Halloween. Halloween, Halloween. Halloween, Halloween.”
-    The Nightmare Before Christmas

Ah, Halloween. My favorite holiday is finally here. For this last installment of the Halloween blog posts, I’ve included a mix of items. I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

Classic Costumes
Let’s face it. No one created creepier costumes than those in the first half of the 20th century. Here are a few that could have been straight out of a Stephen King novel.


Diesel Goth Costumes
Halloween is an excellent time for Diesel Goths to show their dark side. Here are a few incredible images of Diesel Goth style that I’ve found online.

Retro-Betty Boop
Finally, Betty Boop always represented Dieselpunk Halloween with her spooky cartoons, such as Minnie the Moocher in 1932. So, here’s some fantastic Halloween-themed modern retro-Betty Boop art to enjoy.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Halloween 2021 – Part 2

In part 2 of my Dieselpunk Halloween blog posts, I focus on the wonderful cinematic legacy left to us by Universal Pictures.

The first of the Universal Pictures monster movies was Dracula, which was released in 1931.  The movie starred Bela Lugosi and was based on the 1924 stage play Dracula, which was adapted from the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. It was followed by the sequel Dracula’s Daughter in 1936.

Frankenstein was released the same year as Dracula. Frankenstein stars Colin Clive as Doctor Frankenstein with his creature played by Boris Karloff. Jack Pierce provided the creatures extraordinary make-up. Universal made numerous sequels, including The Bride of Frankenstein (1936) and the Son of Frankenstein.

The Mummy
Released in 1932, The Mummy starred Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, and Arthur Byron. The Mummy was inspired by the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922. 

The Invisible Man
Based on H. G. Wells' 1897 novel, The Invisible Man was released by Universal Pictures in 1933. The movie starred Claude Rains as Dr. Jack Griffin, who discovers a formula that made him invisible and drove him insane. Universal released several sequels, such as The Invisible Man Returns (1940) and a comedy The Invisible Woman (1940). 

The Wolf Man
The 1941 The Wolf Man wasn’t Universal Pictures' first attempt at the werewolf story. That was Werewolf of London, which was released in 1935. However, The Wolf Man is the most famous of the two.  The movie starred Lon Chaney Jr. in the title role. The supporting cast included a who’s who with Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, and Bela Lugosi. The Wolf Man has several sequels, including Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. 

Young Frankenstein
While not released by Universal Pictures, the Dieselpunk classic Young Frankenstein is a loving tribute to the aforementioned Universal Pictures monster movies. Produced and directed by Mel Brooks and co-written by Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein was released in 1974. The cast included Wilder as a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein while Peter Boyle played the creature. It co-starred Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, and Gene Hackman.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Halloween 2021 - Part 1

I don’t think that I’ve seen people as fired up about Halloween as I have this year. I know that I was getting fired up at the start of September, although I admit that I’m pretty much into Halloween year around. This is the first of two Halloween posts for this season.


Let’s face it; nothing represents Dieselpunk Halloween more than the works of H.P. Lovecraft. His work written in the 1920s and 30s embodies the horror literature of that era and continues to influence modern science-fiction and horror. A Dieselpunk Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without Lovecraft.

Obviously, the best way to enjoy Lovecraft is to read his actual works along with the multitude of authors who continue to build the Cthulhu Mythos.

Several of Lovecraft’s stories can are on YouTube.

The YouTube channel Steininger has a fantastic illustrated reading of Lovecraft’s short story, Dagon.


The YouTube channel MSA Matthew has a great illustrated reading of The Nameless City.

As I mentioned, the Cthulhu Mythos continues to grow and to be re-imagined. Possibly the most outstanding production of the Cthulhu Mythos is Lovecraft Country, which is found on HBO Max. 

For those who want to learn about Lovecraft’s works, I highly recommend the TedEd video Titan of terror: the dark imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.

Finally, to better understand Lovecraft’s concept of Cosmicism, also known as Cosmic Horror, I highly recommend the video ALIEN: What is Cosmic Horror?


Halloween Music 

In the mood for classic Jazz and Swing Era Halloween music? I highly recommend Vintage Halloween Music (re-upload), which has songs such as Witchcraft by Frank Sinatra and Swinging at the Séance by Glenn Miller. While the music plays, the video displays Halloween art from that era, as well.

Not where you can watch YouTube? I highly recommend Lee Presson & The Nails CD Last Requests.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Tenpenny Tower Radio

In the past, I’ve written about how much decodence (the element or impression of the Jazz/ Swing Eras) is in the Fallout series. The decodence in Fallout is primarily found in the music used in the various versions of the game. This blog post focuses on a Fallout soundtrack that I recently found: Tenpenny Tower Radio. 

First, some background is needed. Tenpenny Tower is a side quest of Fallout 3. Fallout 3 was the third in a series of games set in a post-apocalyptic world. According to Fallout Wiki

“The game takes place in the year 2277, 200 years after the Great War, on the East Coast of what used to be the United States of America, mostly in Washington, D.C., southwest Maryland, western Pennsylvania and northeast Virginia.”

Also, according to Fallout Wiki,

"Tenpenny Tower is a fortified settlement in the Capital Wasteland in 2277. It is located out in the wastes west of the DC ruins, directly southwest of the RobCo main production facility.”

Tenpenny Tower Radio is roughly four and a half hours of twenties-era jazz. The only breaks are a DJ who regularly gives the station-id and motto along with “Tenpenny Truisms.” 

So, how can one listen to Tenpenny Tower Radio? Even if you played Fallout 3, you wouldn’t hear it because, according to Fallout Wiki, Tenpenny Tower Radio was cut from the final edition of Fallout 3.

The only way that I’ve found to listen to Tenpenny Tower Radio is through YouTube. While the music is excellent, visually the video isn't much to see. The video consists of roughly twelve still screen-grabs from the game repeated ad nauseam throughout the four-and-a-half-hour playtime while the “radio” plays in the background. 

Of all of the Fallout radio soundtracks that I’ve found online, Tenpenny Tower Radio is the most dieselpunk and most entertaining. I highly recommend it. I’ve embedded the YouTube video below.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Marvel Does Dieselpunk, Again

Without a doubt, Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger is an iconic dieselpunk movie. Its fusion of World War 2 with comic book/ science-fiction makes it the perfect example of the genre. Now, Marvel has given us a new spin on this fantastic character. 

The Marvel series What…? debuted on Disney+ on August 11th, 2021, with their first episode, What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger? Because of a quick decision by Agent Carter right before the experiment that in the original resulted in Steve Rogers becoming Captain America, Carter rather than Rogers gets the serum. The result is that she obtains the superpower rather than him. Carter then successfully has herself promoted to Captain Carter despite the misogynist bias of her times, and a new superhero is born.

When Captain Carter isn’t punching Nazis and Hydra goons, she’s fighting sexism at home. On top of it all, we see some fantastic dieselpunk mecha. Throw in a little Lovecraft, and you have an animated short that’s an adrenaline-fulled powerhouse.